Physical therapy isn’t only used for recovery after a serious injury or surgery, its benefits go well beyond, with the ability to help many different types of health conditions, relieve pain, promote mobility, and restore function. There are more than 265,000 physical therapists across the country helping patients in clinics like Mountain Top Physical Therapy. PTs often work in conjunction with teams of other medical professionals to treat everything from genetic and neurological disorders to common problems like dizziness and headaches.
While there are many reasons to take advantage of physical therapy, these four health conditions can all be helped by seeing a physical therapist.
Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves and can cause multiple symptoms such as pain, alterations in muscle activity, and changes in sensation. It can occur as a side effect of medication or be associated with an injury, overuse conditions, or diseases like diabetes. Physical therapy can help reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life by using exercises that move and glide the nerves. The therapist may also work on techniques for improving balance and coordination, which are often affected by peripheral neuropathy, to help reduce the risk of falls.
A cancer patient undergoing surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, or other treatments can often find relief through physical therapy. A physical therapist can help those suffering from brain, colon, bone, lung, and other cancers with the side effects of those treatments, like regaining strength and reducing fatigue. A regimen that includes resistance, flexibility, and aerobic exercises are often prescribed to improve quality of life. A PT can be essential for preventing, identifying, and treating issues resulting from cancer, allowing patients to achieve their fullest potential for activities.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder causing debilitating fatigue which can’t be improved with rest. A physical therapist can work with the patient to develop a treatment plan that can ease discomfort and improve the ability to perform day-to-day tasks. As weakness, pain, and fatigue are all part of this condition, improving strength, and short-term endurance will likely be what the PT will focus on. The PT may look for other conditions often associated with CFS, like depression, so that you can be referred to other specialists for all your symptoms.
The most common joint disease leading to disability is osteoarthritis. While it’s often attributed to something that occurs with old age, it can happen at any stage of life. Degeneration and inflammation of the bones in the joints, most often in the hands, hips, knees, or feet, can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain. A physical therapist will use manual therapy exercises, assess the range of motion, and strengthen surrounding muscles, like the hamstrings when there is osteoarthritis in the knees, to improve functionality and relieve pain.
In some situations, the pain can be triggered by environmental factors, and a PT will be able to provide insight into the various causes to help the patient make adjustments to reduce the level of discomfort. Pain can also be targeted by using specialized treatments like hot and cold therapy or therapeutic massage.